What Can I Tell From YOUR MLS Photos?

Home Stager with Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon CCB #180695

Won't you look at this listing and see what you think?  I get this request frequently as do most stagers from agents and home sellers.  When we get these requests I usually go onto the MLS or Trulia and look at the photos and a couple of comparative properties, and try to zip out a response within 15 minutes or so of my initial impressions.   BUT -- when I received a request this week it took me quite awhile to really be able to analyze the property -- why?  Here are the MLS photos - what do YOU think?

Oregon home for sale

Oregon home for sale

  Oregon home for sale


These were the only interior shots that were posted on the MLS.  There was an exterior shot which showed snow and a lit Christmas tree, as well as one showing a sunny day. 

This first one looks like a family room - nice french doors to a patio and a ceiling fan - but I really can't tell much else about the room.

Looks like a large bed that takes up the entire space and a cave . . .

Bookcases, puddling curtains and a dining room table - but again I really can't see much of the room.

Now if you think that buyers as they are clicking through the MLS are going to spend this much time straining to see the room - think again!  These rooms paint a dark and hazy view of this home.  Yes, I think this house can benefit from the advice of a stager - but -- even more so, I think it deserves great photos!

With over 85% of home buyers looking first online, you can't afford to have bad photos representing a home for sale.  (I'd like to repeat this 10 times in a row if it would help getting the message across!)

Even these dark photos can be enhanced through online software. One easy one to use is Picnik.com.  No membership required if you are willing to process 5 photos at a time.


Upload the photos, adjust the exposure.  Remember that people respond positively to light and bright rooms!

Adjust the saturation and temperature to warm things up to the correct colors.
for sale home should look light and brightfor sale homes deserve great photos
how do you want your home to look online?
Sharpen the image to appear more crisp and clear. 

Save the image to your computer for your use.  These few minutes are a good investment of time!


These are the same photos as above that I quickly took through the above steps so I could analyze these rooms.  What type of impression do you have of this home now?  I little different than above?  From these enhanced photos, I can now really see the room sizes, how it is decorated and if I was a buyer, on whether I'd want to make sure to put it on my "must see" list!



Poor photos on the MLS don't represent the home well, but also don't represent the listing agent well either.  This is your showcase of your product - make sure it is the best possible representation!



Creative Concepts and Contracting provides quality home staging and repairs for Salem Oregon and surrounding areas.  Contact us at 503-881-0886 for ideas on how to set your home apart from the competition and presented well on the internet and in person!







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Comments (17)

Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Great job Margaret stressing the importance of MLS photos and the impact just some minor changes can make.  I use Picnik and I love it.  All of my photos, whether personal or business, pass through Picnik  before going anywhere else.

May 19, 2009 01:46 AM
David Width Jr.
Little Egg Harbor, NJ

I don't know why it is so hard to take 12 good pictures. It takes the matter of 20 minutes and you never have to do it again. Don't show us the furniture, we don't care, we want to see what the house has to offer. Good point Margaret.

May 19, 2009 01:53 AM
Jess Graves
JessGravesDesigns.Com - Bristol, PA
Bucks County Decordiva of Home Staging

Excellent point,......rule number one... "make a good first impression!"

I like how you showed the difference between the edited photos and the actual shots. Well done!


Thanks,  Jess

May 19, 2009 02:01 AM
Cheryl Powell - The Powell Team
Southern Homes of The Carolinas - The Powell Team - Harrisburg, NC
Concord,Harrisburg & Charlotte NC Area Real Estate

If you're going to take the time to take pictures, take the time to make the pictures good.

May 19, 2009 02:44 AM
Michael Fontana
Round Rock Home Stager Austin Home Staging - Round Rock, TX
@ The Stage Coach

Nice, Margaret!  I'm with you!  I think you can tell a lot about an Agent by looking at the photos they put up for their listings.  I look at nearby listings before I go out.  And this week found a listing that had Not One... But TWO photos with a dog staring up at the camera.  And One with a picture of the lower 1/2 of the REALTOR reflected in the mirror. Not to mention, the cruddy exposure in most rooms. 

I admit, many of my photos are not the best - I'm no pro.  But then again, the sale of a several hundred thousand dollar residence is not at stake with my pictures.  Gotta do it right!

Thanks for sharing.
The Stage Coach Home Staging

May 19, 2009 04:37 AM
Laurie Calhoun
Gloria Home Staging, Inc. - Winter Springs, FL
Seminole County FL Home Stager

I saw one MLS picture recently where I learned that the owner has a very agile cat. I could tell because I could see the cat flying through the air... The room itself wasn't so clear, unfortunately.

May 19, 2009 05:13 AM
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Another well said blog Margaret.  SOMEDAY, not too soon I hope, when it's time to sell the house, the listing photos on the MLS systems will be one of my determining factors in hiring an agent.  My classes on photography are well received but when I visit the listings on-line I see that most have NOT implemented the suggestions.  Foolish because we really can tell a lot about their businesses from their photos!  

May 19, 2009 05:29 AM
Mike Saunders
Retired - Athens, GA

Margaret - I am amazed at what so many think is ok to put on the MLS. It takes longer to upload a picture to the system than it does to properly frame and focus, and take multiple bracketed pictures. And almost any free photo editor will do a yeoman's job of cleaning up any frame that needs it.

May 19, 2009 05:41 AM
Julie Davis, Amy Blank - Rediscovered Interiors, LLC
Rediscovered Interiors, LLC - Andover, MN

Photos ONLINE are how people will find realtors now--they don't look for realtors in the phonebook anymore, they (now I've heard it's up to 92%) are looking for themselves on the internet, find the ones they like, THEN call the agent attached with that listing.  Realtors can't afford to miss the mark with these photo's--sad thing is, majority are. And no matter how great the resolution is, you must add to it that what is in the picture is pleasing to the eye as well.  And who better to help make sure what is in those pictures will draw the buyers attention--STAGERS!!!!


May 19, 2009 11:09 AM
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

Excellent post Margaret!  One of most important marketing factors of a listing is the internet presence and so many Realtors just don't get it!  I just looked a property up and 4 of the 9 photos were of plants in the yard. Rather than show vacant rooms she chose to photograph the plants.


May 19, 2009 11:25 AM
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

Such a great post!  Love the comparative photos, because it really "brings the focus", pardon the pun, to the importance of the photos!

May 19, 2009 02:28 PM
Kimo Stowell
HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 - Honolulu, HI
REALTOR Associate® RS-76763 - Honolulu Hawai'i

Aloha Margaret,

Superlative MLS photos are very important and should not be overlooked as a primary marketing tool worth the cost. Thanks for the post.


May 19, 2009 04:54 PM
Nannette Martin
RE/MAX Integrity - Salem, OR
Your Purple Shoes Real Estate Pro at RE/MAX

Excellent! It's hard to believe that you used the same photo but with color and light correction. I really think this is where taking it to the next level is essential in marketing a property. I notice listings where agents have done that and I really appreciate it.

May 20, 2009 07:18 AM
Mary Fasnacht
Washington and Allegheny Counties and surrounding areas - McMurray, PA
Feels Like Home Interiors ~ Pittsburgh PA Home Staging

Excellent post, Margaret.  Your photos do a great job of demonstrating how important the quality of the photos is to the impression they give.  I'm always a bit surprised that sellers don't speak up more if the quality of their MLS photos is not up to snuff.  I know the three times I've sold my home I let the agent take photos and I also took my own.  After looking at the realtor's pics I sent them mine and asked them to use the ones I took for MLS and feature sheets.  I say never take a chance with that first impression.  Thanks for sharing this.   

May 20, 2009 12:11 PM
Pangaea Interior Design Kitchen & Bath Design, Remodeling
Portland Oregon - Portland, OR

Great tips! I often adjust the exposure, but hadn't really played with the "temperature". I'll give it a shot.

May 20, 2009 06:38 PM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Margaret, how right you are...we just need to look objectively at listings on the mls and we'd know what to do.  More is not better if they are terrible photos.  Good photos attract, bad photos detract.

May 21, 2009 07:24 AM
Melissa Large
Prudential Real Estate Professionals - Salem, OR

I completly agree! Thanks for bringing this topic up. I'm sure because of you we will have more pleasant MLS searches!

Jun 22, 2009 09:06 AM